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effects of alcohol

6/12/12 10:53am

Even Light Drinking Disrupts Sleep

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Alcohol is no sleeping pill. Photo via

Drinking in moderation disrupts your sleep, new research suggests. While many regularly use alcohol as a sleep aid, the new study—published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism—finds that college students who drink low amounts of alcohol report getting less sleep than on nights when they stay completely sober. Researchers used wristband devices to measure how long 46 volunteers slept each night; they then compared those numbers to the amount of booze that was consumed. Participants were divided into two groups: “low dose,” who drank moderately, and “high dose,” who drank more than the average amount. The “low dose” group got 47 minutes less sleep on drinking nights than sober nights, and woke up earlier. And, the “high dose” group got about 22 minutes less sleep on nights when they drank—researchers believe this disparity was possibly due to chance. “The findings add weight to the evidence that alcohol should not be used as a sleep aid,” says lead author Pierce Geoghegan, of Trinity College, Dublin. Drinking alcohol is known to disrupt sleep during the second half of the night due to the "metabolic rebound" effect, which means that alcohol may help you fall asleep, but as the alcohol leaves your system you'll become more alert and at higher risk of waking up. 

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

6/12/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: June 12, 2012

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Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske
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By Gabrielle Wuhl

Alcoholics Anonymous

6/11/12 5:18pm

"Bill W. Day" Celebrates AA Co-Founder

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Bill W's final resting place in Dorset, VT.
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Bill Wilson is known simply as "Bill W." among members of Alcoholics Anonymous—the organization he co-founded with "Dr. Bob" Smith in the 1930's; anonymity is one of AA's 12 Traditions, "ever reminding [members] to place principles before personalities." And although meetings are autonomous and "self-supporting," Bill W. is revered as a hero by many in the AA community. So on the first Sunday of June each year, hundreds gather at his grave in a small cemetery near his birthplace in East Dorset, VT to pay respects and show gratitude. This past weekend marked the 77th Anniversary of AA, which Bill and Dr. Bob founded on the principle that by helping others to stay sober, they could stay sober themselves. In the past nearly-eight decades, AA has become a global movement with millions of members. Although some question its merits, many others rely on it to stay clean and rebuild their lives. 

"I have great respect for Bill and everything he's done," AA member Dennis said this weekend at the annual "Bill W. Day" gathering. "It's not just not drinking; it's about living a different life, becoming a different human being." Another member, Dick, who helped organize the event, says people will leave notes at his grave throughout the year; and many also leave their "sobriety chips" (coins AA members receive to mark periods of continuous sobriety). About 200 gathered at this year's event—which opened similarly to a traditional AA meeting, with members reading AA's 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, followed by an introduction: "My name is Liz, and I am an alcoholic". "Hi Liz," responded the group in unison. They then recited AA's "serenity prayer"—a fixture in meetings for decades: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."

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By May Wilkerson

prescription drug abuse

6/11/12 4:52pm

Students Still Seek Better Grades Through Drugs

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"Good-grade pills." Photo via

The number of high school students abusing prescription stimulants to gain an academic edge seems to be rising, especially at schools where students are under more pressure to achieve and attend top colleges. While medicines like Adderall and Ritalin can help students with ADHD to stay focused, those without the disorder are increasingly using the pills—often buying them from classmates who have prescriptions—to help them push through all-nighters and ace exams. While abusing these pills can lead to depression, mood swings, heart irregularities, acute exhaustion, and psychosis during withdrawal, little is known about the longer-term effects. “Children have prefrontal cortexes that are not fully developed, and we’re changing the chemistry of the brain,” says Paul L. Hokemeyer, family therapist at Caron Treatment Centers in Manhattan. “It’s one thing if you have a real deficiency—the medicine is really important to those people—but not if your deficiency is not getting into Brown.”

The number of ADHD meds prescribed to young people has jumped 26% since 2007—although an annual survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that abuse of prescription amphetamines by 10th and 12th graders nationally has actually droppedd since the '90s. But experts note that the survey doesn't focus on students at high-pressure schools—where they believe the abuse is rising. And many teenagers don't even realize how dangerous and addictive these drugs are. “These are academic steroids. But usually, parents don’t get the steroids for you," says a high school senior in Connecticut, who convinced a doctor in to prescribe him Aderall so he could raise his grades. He then got hooked, taking up to 400 mg a day and ending up in a rehab where one fifth of the patients were being treated for stimulant dependencies that began like his own. “No one seems to think that it’s a real thing—adults on the outside looking in,” says the boy. “The other kids in rehab thought we weren’t addicts because Adderall wasn’t a real drug. It’s so underestimated.”

<a href="http://www.sodahead.com/living/have-you-ever-taken-drugs-to-enhance-your-schoolwork-performance/question-2721133/" title="Have you ever taken drugs to enhance your school/work performance?">Have you ever taken drugs to enhance your school/work performance?</a>

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By Chrisanne Grise

Bad Sports

6/11/12 4:07pm

NY Giants Lineman Arrested for DUI

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David Diehl sporting a Croatia jersey at the
time of his arrest. Photo via

New York Giants lineman David Diehl had a good time Sunday watching his beloved Croatia cruise to a 3-1 victory over Ireland in the Euro 2012 tournament. Perhaps too good of a time. As the giant Giant was leaving a Queens bar in his black BMW he sideswiped several parked cars, peeling paint, smashing bumpers and earning himself a DUI. When police arrived at the scene Diehl was passed out at the wheel, one witness told the Daily News. The lineman, a police source told the paper, smelled of alcohol and blew a .182 on the Breathalyzer. Now he faces up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, along with the wrath of the NFL, which counts DUIs as a violation of its substance abuse and personal conduct policies. Worse than the jail, the fine or NFL though might be the wrath his coach, the notoriously curmudgeonly Tom Coughlin, who sure likes to yell.

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By Adam K. Raymond

addiction on film

6/11/12 3:39pm

Spider-Man Villain Modeled on Meth Addict

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Rhys's character as his alter ego, The Lizard.
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If you've ever been a crystal meth addict, then upcoming blockbuster The Amazing Spider-Man may be a trip down memory lane. Rhy Ifans says his character Dr. Curt Connors—whose experiments with drugs to develop replacement limbs turn him into a 9-foot lizard—develops a dependency that mirrors crystal meth addiction. “Unfortunately, he decides to become his own lab rat and the drug he takes gives him this kind of euphoria—I guess something like crystal meth," said Ifans. “That feeling becomes addictive to Connors and that’s why he keeps returning to The Lizard. You know, when guys are on these drugs they feel so brilliant and they want the rest of the world to feel as good as them, even though their behaviour is ultimately destructive to themselves and everyone around them.” The addiction theme even carries over to the music being played on set, with the song "Heroin" by The Velvet Underground playing during the scene of Connors' transformation. “When we were shooting the scene when Connors sees his new hand appear for the first time through this kind of reptilian chrysalis, the director played (Heroin)," said the actor. "You know the lyrics, ‘It’s my life, and it’s my wife.’ It’s a beautiful song about addiction. So we let this song run and just let this hand appear. It was really moving.” And while Ifans has developed a reputation for being a party animal, he claims his only addiction is to nicotine: “After seven hours in a chair with not enough cigarettes, I was kind of in the right mental state to play a man who was about to transform into a nine-foot lizard with a dangerous tail." 

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By McCarton Ackerman

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